What are some fonts that look Latin to readers of non-Latin chararcter set languages?
September 12, 2004 3:04 PM   Subscribe

Can someone point me to some fonts that are Latin-looking to readers of non-Latin chararcter set languages? [MI]

I've seen many fonts like these meant to resemble languages that don't use the Latin character set[PDF]. They all seem to rely on a few visual tricks, often repeated endlessly, like a reversed "R" to suggest the Cyrillic letter "yah" (?), or curving letter forms meant to suggest, say, Japanese, Thai, or Hebrew.
But where are the fonts that suggest Latin letters to readers of non-Latin character languages?
note: I have no professional interest, really. I just love fonts and found myself wondering about this recently.
posted by Stoatfarm to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You mean you're looking for something like kanji characters rendered to look like ABCs? A Japanese font contains several thousand (often 15,000 or more) characters. If you were going to render intelligible Japanese using this font, and somehow were able to make it look like Roman letters, you'd have to make several hundred "A"s, several hundred "B"s ,etc. Besides, everyone in Japan (or at least 99%) is quite familiar with the roman alphabet. The Latin alphabet is a streamlined set of symbols, while Chinese kanji are complex (too damn needlessly complex for us gaijin trying to figure them out) pictographs. It's going to be easier to go one way than the other.
posted by planetkyoto at 5:37 PM on September 12, 2004

You might need to post in a non-Roman forum to get ideal answers. The closest I can think of is this site, which includes numerous free Roman fonts designed by a clearly non-Roman-based eye. Have a look at Iai or Fleur under "free fonts" for example (can't give a URL as some of the site's in Flash).
posted by zadcat at 5:54 PM on September 12, 2004

planetkyoto: I think I know what you mean, and I appreciate the insight that everyone in Japan probably knows Latin characters, as well as the problem of having many more characters to map. The first issue maybe makes the problem less interesting for japanese font designers, they might just use Romanji to do more than merely suggest Latin fonts.

zadcat: I know I should try to post on such sites, but I'm doing poorly enough explaining the problem in English! :) Nice fonts on that site!

Thanks to you both!
posted by Stoatfarm at 6:45 PM on September 12, 2004

For Japanese, couldn't you have a hiragana and katakana font set that was designed to look like Roman letters?
posted by reverendX at 9:13 PM on September 12, 2004

are there any fonts that are meaningless, but look like roman text? (so you might use them rather like ipsum...)
posted by andrew cooke at 6:04 AM on September 13, 2004

Well, the Cherokee alphabet uses glyphs borrowed from the roman alphabet in a completely different way, plus a lot of made-up glyphs that look similar to roman glyphs but are unique to Cherokee. If you've got a Mac with OS X, you may already have a font that includes these characters. Also on OS X, there's a "character palette" that lets you browse character-set by language, so you might find other fun stuff.
posted by adamrice at 7:36 AM on September 13, 2004

For Japanese, couldn't you have a hiragana and katakana font set that was designed to look like Roman letters?

By "designed to look like Roman letters", do you mean that the font would have no recognizable individual strokes and a rounded sort of look? These kinds of fonts are ubiquitous in Japanese advertising. You can find some examples here, though note that the vast majority of Japanese fonts are not provided free of charge. This one is kind of Romanesque, and pretty cute.

Other than that, I'm not sure how one would make a katakana or hiragana font that looks like Roman letters. The shapes of the characters just aren't all that similar.
posted by vorfeed at 11:34 AM on September 13, 2004

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